Convicted sex offenders aren't allowed on playgrounds, or near schools, but incredibly they can stroll right into the children's section of public libraries.
City officials are now trying to change that, proposing a law today that would ban sex offenders from children's library reading rooms.
Public Advocate Bill de Blasio and Queens Councilman Peter Vallone said the law is in an attempt to prevent what they call an underreported crime against children.
On Monday a registered sex offender was arrested for allegedly fondling two girls, ages 6 and 9, at the Flushing branch of the Queens Public Library. Joel Grubert, 49, had had a history of criminal sex abuse against young girls, according to reports.
According to the DeBlasio spokesman Wiley Norvell, crimes like these are underreported because libraries are heavily used by immigrant families who face a language barrier or fear deportation.
"It is common sense that we keep sexual predators away from areas where young kids congregate," said Vallone. "Children's rooms in libraries are really indoor playgrounds for growing minds, and our kids need every protection we can give them."
A law banning offenders from entire libraries passed the New York state Senate but did not pass the Assembly. This time around Vallone and de Blasio singled out children's reading rooms to get the bill to stick.
"The idea is the law would act as a deterrent to sex offenders," said Norvell. "It would become something their parole officer would explain to them as one of the places they cannot go."
Currently offenders are banned from playgrounds and from living within 1,000 feet of a school or children's daycare. In other states sex offenders have previously been banned from parks, beaches, pools, and even malls.